The stars of the Sprint Cup Series enjoyed their final off-weekend of the 2009 season after a hard night's work at Bristol Motor Speedway two weeks ago. This weekend it’s back to racing and for the first time it’ll be under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Carl Edwards will be racing with a broken right foot as he and many others try to lock in their spot in the Chase field as we have just two races remaining until the 10-race Chase for the Championship begins.
Our Creatures are trying to rack up as many bonus points as possible and this week here’s who they think will help in doing so.
Ben Bomberger: Jimmie Johnson
While I know I'm not going to be alone on this pick, I can't vote against Johnson and team 48 this weekend. Johnson leads all drivers with a driver rating of 112.2 and has visited victory lane three times in 16 starts.
Pack that in with nine top-fives, 11 top-10s, an average finish of 9.1, plus a guaranteed spot in the 2009 Chase and the Lowe's team will hang it all on the line for win number four of the 2009 season in Hot-Lanta.
James Broomhead: No Pick Sent
No pick sent.
Mary Jo Buchanan: Tony Stewart
My race pick is a purely sentimental one this weekend. I originally was going with Carl Edwards, who is so good in Atlanta and fresh off his great Nationwide win in Montreal.
But my sister-in-law, who was a huge Tony Stewart fan, passed away this week. So, in memory of Shelly Bombardo, may she rest in peace, I hope that Smoke will be hoisting the trophy high in Victory Lane.
Kelly Crandall: Jimmie Johnson
He's won Atlanta in the past and is still mad about having his night ruined in Bristol. Plus, he and Chad Knaus are the masters of races that start in the daytime and end at night. They'll be the ones to keep up with the Atlanta track come Sunday.
Mason Dunn: Mark Martin
No comment necessary here, old man is going to get it done.
Adam Heasley: No Pick Sent
No pick sent.
Danielle Henderson: Kyle Busch
No matter how much myself or anyone else dislikes Kyle Busch, there is no denying that he is an amazing driver. Two weeks ago at Bristol he hushed those who questioned his abilities by winning.
Then, during the off week, he won the Camping World Truck series race. Look for Busch to be a top five contender on Saturday night.
Kara Martin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
I know that I am going out on a limb here by choosing Junior, but his performance has improved over the last few weeks (including back-to-back top 10 finishes in the last two races), and I think that it has given him the confidence and knowledge to score his first win in 2009. At least I hope so!
SM Napier: Kyle Busch
Going with Rowdy Busch this week. He needs to make up points, will be on his game, and will be running like he did at Bristol. Rowdy should run a real good race, save his stuff until the 60 miles or so, and then he'll just work his way to the front for the win.
Kyle Ocker: No Pick Sent
No pick sent.
David Phillips: No Pick Sent
No pick sent.
Jen Preston: Clint Bowyer
With just two races to go before the Chase cutoff, Clint Bowyer desperately needs a good run at Atlanta this Sunday night—and I think he'll get it.
His average finish is just 13.7, but he's going to be looking to rebound from his poor Bristol run...and possibly make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Rob Tiongson: Mark Martin
I have to go with this sentimental favorite just because if the No. 5 team is going to build a solid case for making the Chase, a victory at Atlanta would go a long way in solidifying its place among the greats.
A win for Martin and crew chief Alan Gustafson not only means a Chase seed, but the points lead if the Chase began now.
The last time the Cup Series was on the track was at Bristol and Kyle Busch brought home the checkered flag. In doing so, it gave two of our writers a win, here is a look at the points standings after Bristol and as we head to Atlanta.
Ben Bomberger (3,578) Kyle Busch won (2)
Kelly Crandall (3,376) Kurt Busch finished seventh (2)
Mary Jo Buchanan (3,238) Jeff Gordon finished 23rd (0)
SM Napier (3,156) Kevin Harvick finished 38th (2)
Adam Heasley (3,087) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished ninth(3)
David Phillips (2,732) Jimmie Johnson finished eighth (2)
Kara Martin (1,982) Kyle Busch won (3)
James Broomhead (1,858) Kurt Busch finished seventh (2)
Mason Dunn (1,557) Mark Martin finished second (0)
Rob Tiongson (1,546) Clint Bowyer finished 21st (1)
Danielle Henderson (1,516) No pick sent (2)
Jen Preston (1,458) No pick sent (1)
Kyle Ocker (1,043) No pick sent (1)
It’s time to go racing at Hot-Lanta under the lights!